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Unscramble Diabetes

475x285 SVH Diabetes

Billings, MT - A Message from Chelsi Hayter, FNP-BC, BC-ADM and the St. Vincent Healthcare Diabetes Team

Diabetes is a result of the body’s inability to break down and utilize carbohydrates effectively, which results in high blood sugar. There are various causes, symptoms, and criteria for diagnosing diabetes. A diagnosis is just the first step of the process, followed by different treatment options. With this complex and sometimes confusing disease, here is my attempt to unscramble the three most common types of diabetes: Prediabetes, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM).

All three types of diabetes are diagnosed through blood work. Blood sugar levels and the presence of pancreatic antibodies help to determine the correct diagnosis.

An individual with prediabetes has elevated blood sugars due to insulin resistance, and is at high risk for developing T2DM. There are an estimated 88 million individuals living with prediabetes in the United States; however, over 84% of them are unaware of this diagnosis. Prediabetes is treated with aggressive lifestyle interventions, including weight loss of 7% body weight, a balanced and healthy diet, 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, smoking cessation, and/or the medication Metformin. These lifestyle interventions can be achieved with participation in a Diabetes Prevention Program which is proven through research to slow the progression to T2DM.

T2DM is the most common form of diabetes and is marked by loss of the body’s ability to produce insulin, along with insulin resistance. Approximately 31.5 million Americans have T2DM, with 1 in 5 being undiagnosed. A healthy, balanced diet and physical activity are the best ways that an individual with T2DM can manage his or her blood sugars. Medication is often required as well. This is an exciting time in the world of T2DM as there are several medications that work in a variety of ways to help manage the disease.

T1DM is the least common form of diabetes, occurring in approximately 5-10% of diabetes cases. It is typically thought that T1DM occurs in children; however, this is not always true as many adults can develop T1DM. T1DM is caused by an autoimmune process that destroys the cells that make insulin; therefore, individuals with this disease will have elevated blood sugars as well as the presence of pancreatic antibodies in their blood. Insulin is the only treatment for T1DM; however, there are valuable technologies and tools available for assisting with treatment. These include insulin pumps and personal continuous glucose monitoring systems.

Not to scramble things up too much, but it is important to note that there is treatment and intervention crossover for the different types of diabetes.

Many individuals do not recognize the symptoms of diabetes, and a diagnosis is made from routine blood work or screening through a health provider. If you are experiencing increased thirst, increased hunger, increased urination, blurred vision, or rapid weight loss it is recommended that you see your health care provider as these are common symptoms that may occur when your blood sugar is high. Routine follow-up with your health care provider is recommended.

We all know someone who is affected by this disease as over 1/3 of the United States population is living with diabetes or prediabetes. The best thing we can do for our loved ones with diabetes is embrace them as they are warriors trying to battle a challenging disease. As a healthcare provider, it is my goal to help patients and their family members unscramble their own diabetes in order to live their best life!

About SCL Health

SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.